Is Dietary Fatty Acid a Risk Factor for Obesity? A Review of the Literature

Lu Wang


Obesity is an important modifiable risk factor for many chronic diseases. With the dramatically increased prevalence of obesity over the last 2 to 3 decades, obesity pandemic has become a major public health challenge worldwide. Finding strategies to prevent the development of obesity are of critical importance to reduce the population burden of obesity and obesity related disorders. The role of high fat intake as a main contributor to obesity remains controversial. Experimental studies have suggested that the composition of dietary fats may be relevant to the development of obesity independent of total fat intake. However, very few epidemiologic studies have prospectively investigated the associations between intake of different fats and body weight gain.  The intrinsic inaccuracy in diet assessment using self-reported method has particularly limited the extent to which most previous epidemiologic studies can reveal the true relation between dietary fat and disease outcomes.  More objective measures of dietary fat profile, such as fatty acids composition in biologic specimens, is superior in hypothesis testing but has rarely been used in studies of obesity.  Furthermore, individual responses to dietary fats may vary based on their genetic backgrounds.  Differential sensitivity to fat-induced obesity has been mapped to specific genetic loci in animal models but is much less studied in humans.  Further genetic association studies are needed to explore potential interactions between dietary fats and genetic variants underlying the development of obesity.


obesity, weight gain, 3 PUFAs, 6 PUFAs, obesity-susceptibility gene variants

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